The Growing Relation between Environment and Public Health
Introduction: Environmental health is deteriorating worldwide. Evidence shows that exposure to air, water and soil pollution has caused many deaths worldwide, a trend that is increasing day by day. Health consequences from exposure to environmental pollutants range from cancer, lung disease, heart disease and a series health problems which often lead to death. The majority of pollution related deaths happens mostly in low and middle-income countries. Environmental and pollution health related issues are not getting the attention they deserve in Albania. The main purpose of this article is to identify the relationship between environmental problems and public health consequences, by analysing public policies, case studies and instruments for measuring environmental health indicators. The article also presents suggestions regarding development of Environmental Medicine in Albania, and Public Health Tracking methods. Methods: Qualitative method is thoughtfully used in this article. Specifically, literature review methodology is used to identify environmental indicators that directly affect public health, adequate policies and instruments for the protection of public health, as well as environmental health at the international and national level. Qualitative method is used to reveal and evaluate the topic through multiple facets covering relevant contextual conditions. This method helps identifying the link between public and environment health indicators in a real-life situation, and to understand the relationship between these indicators in the Albanian context. Results and Discussion: Albania lacks a specific measurement system of Environmental Public Health Tracking, as well an established methodology for linking environmental and public health. Potential capacities for measuring environmental and health indicators are limited at the national level, thus, the public health policies do not clearly and fully integrate environmental health indicators for the protection of public health. Vocational training in health and environment is being practiced through various disciplines, but there is a need for specialized environmental medicine health professionals, with adequate competences in the field. Conclusions: The correlation between environment and public health is gaining attention nationally and globally. As in other countries, the need for Environmental Medicine professionals is growing also in Albania. Strong correlations between of environmental pollution indicators (air, water, land pollution) and public health indicators (such as infant and general mortality, morbidity rates, respiratory diseases, etc.) have increased in the last years. Use of instruments (such as EPHT), a fully integrated university curricula and a specific discipline of Environmental Medicine should be made a priority not only nationally, but also globally as environmental problems such as climate change do not recognize national borders. In order to manage the rising cases, states need to be resilient, and build appropriate research based policies and action plans to prevent the occurrence of environmental related public health consequences.
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